La Diada de Sant Jordi (San Jorge or St George’s Day) on 23 April is widely celebrated throughout Catalonia in recognition of their patron saint and one of the most important days on the holiday calendar. This day is also referred to as El Día del Libre (World Book Day) as well as El Día de la Rosa (Day of the Rose) and is celebrated in the Balearic Islands. Although not a public holiday, the shops and streets in Menorca become flooded with books and roses, and many schools organise special workshops outside the classroom.
Carnival is the festive period that happens immediately before Lent. In Spain, this is celebrated nationwide with each town having its own specific style of event, the common theme being to eat, drink and have fun before the six week Lentern period of fasting and repentance prior to Easter. Typically, Carnival involves public celebrations and parades, sometimes combining elements of a circus and street party, when people take the opportunity to dress up in elaborate costumes, often wearing masks to disguise their identity, dance and generally enjoy themselves. To read about Carnival in Menorca, click here.
Halloween (a shortening of ‘All Hallows’ Evening’), the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) is now celebrated in numerous countries around the world on 31 October. According to many scholars, it was originally influenced by Western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic festival of Samhain. Others maintain it originated independently of Samhain and has Christian roots.
During the summer months, most towns and villages in Menorca celebrate their patron saint with a local fiesta in their honour. However, while the fiestas themselves tend to observe set protocol and traditions, the origin of each fiesta’s name, to whom it is dedicated or why it is held on a certain date is often overlooked amidst all the excitement. Here we look at the four towns whose fiesta falls in July this year.
Es Mercadal: Festes de Sant Martí / San Martin, Saturday 14 – Monday 16 July 2012
The fiesta of Es Mercadal is named after its patron saint, Sant Martí or San Martin de Tours, the patron saint of soldiers, equestrians, beggars, tailors, merchants and vintners, born in 316 AD. Dating back to Medieval times, this is Menorca’s oldest fiesta after Sant Joan in Ciutadella, and many years ago, it used to include the other towns and villages in the municipality
The Fiesta of Sant Joan 2012 takes place in Ciutadella from 23 to 25 June each year, marking the start of the 2012 Menorca summer fiesta season. This is Menorca's largest fiesta attracting huge crowds and throughout the week before, fiesta fever builds as people arrive from all over Spain to take part. Being a weekend will make for an even greater party atmosphere with many shops and businesses in Ciutadella remaining closed on 25 June. Here is a background to the fiesta’s origins and for the full programme of events for 2012, as featured in our What's On section, click here.
Sant Joan is the most well known of Menorca's fiestas, and essentially belongs toCiutadella since it is recognised as the celebration to honour the city’s patron saint, Sant Joan. Falling at the summer solstice, this is the first of the island's annual local fiestas to be held, the rest taking place from July to September. However, rather than being connected to pagan festivals to mark the longest day, it is probable that its origins are religious since the feast of St John the Baptist has been celebrated in Menorca since the times of King Jaime II of Mallorca.
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